Das Tal Brings PvP To New Heights
By: Benjamin "Foghladha" Foley | : 1022 : 1
If you have been around the gaming scene for a while you have seen the rise of the Massively Multiplayer Role-Playing Game (MMORPG) into stardom. More recently we have seen the ascent of the Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA). In spite of the “multiplayer” similarities there are very few games that have successfully created a synergy between the MOBA and the MMORPG genres. Das Tal hopes to be one of them. Its stylish looks and unique concept is intended to break the barrier between the two gameplay styles and create a new generation of gaming.
Das Tal is an open world survival arena that brings MOBA tactics and Sandbox MMO strategy into one coherent picture. The game rests on the three defining pillars: Meaningful Conflict, Skill-Based Combat, and Constantly Changing Worlds.
Recently the Gaiscioch Magazine had an opportunity to sit down with the Das Tal development team and discuss their interesting and innovative title.
Greetings and thank you for joining us today to talk about Das Tal. Before we get started can I have you tell us a little bit about yourself and your role with Fairytale Distillery?
Thanks for having me! I’m Alex. I’ve been dreaming about Das Tal for many years and today I wear many hats in the studio. As the Game Director I am the person who has to make final decisions about everything related to the gameplay. As the Managing Director I am in charge of all things business - which generally means making sure that every team member can pay their rent in time. There are many other jobs like giving interviews, doing the taxes and wiping the office floor, but these are the most important ones.
Das Tal is built on three defining Pillars. The first of which is Meaningful Conflict. Can you tell us a little about what this means to you and how we can expect to see it pan out at launch?
Meaningful conflict is my way of saying that our game is all about PvP. It’s the core, bread-and-butter play experience that we love. But not in the way that you might have in your average Counter Strike or Chess game where winning or losing a single round often does not mean much. In Das Tal there is always a reason why you fight and there are reasons to sometimes not. For example your clan might want to take over a major source of obsidian in the game world. Very likely this will turn into a large-scale war with many other guilds – but maybe you’ll decide to go for a diplomatic approach instead. Because you know that such a war will take a long time, will be costly and full of risks. It might end up threatening to take away the settlement that you built over weeks. And believe me – defending your possessions in such a siege fight comes with a lot more adrenaline than a couple of short arena game sessions that you might otherwise have played on that evening.
The second pillar is Skill-Based Combat. How does Das Tal bring Skill-Based content into the game? What is the typical length of a fight?
Skill-based combat means that we give you 100% freedom in how you use your abilities. In Das Tal you freely aim every single ability and they generally do not distinguish between friend and foe. So if you decide to throw a massive fireball into a group of combatants then you need to make sure it does not hit a stray ally of yours and blow up your own group accidentally. Same thing goes for healing abilities – if you’re not careful then you might well heal the enemy tank instead of yours. Though sometimes this might actually be something that you want to do depending on your strategy.
Fight length depends a lot on the circumstances. If you run around solo, you might encounter someone and play cat-and mouse for two minutes. A team fight for a resource spawn or other key locations might take 15 minutes. And a massive settlement siege or the end game event can take a couple of hours.
Now there are some really innovative pieces of combat in Das Tal. Can you tell us a little about the unique features that Das Tal brings to combat?
I’ve already talked about the pure skill-shot and friendly-fire part of combat. There are other aspects, too. For example, every character has a very limited line of sight and – amongst other things – a blind spot in their back. So there is ample room for backstabbing when you approach your enemies from the right angle. You could also hide in tall grass and set up a great ambush. But one thing you have to be aware of is that every character in Das Tal leaves behind footsteps. So while you might think you are the hunter you might well be the hunted – bounty hunters can easily trace your steps if you are not careful.
From the game world side, Das Tal offers Constantly Changing Worlds. Can you explain to us what this means and what we can expect to see?
Constantly changing worlds mean that we intentionally limit the lifetime of every game world. And when this world ends, there are some winners and many losers. And then we go again and play on a new game world where everybody starts on even ground. But this time around, things are different. There are of course other players around, new allies and enemies. But we also intend to change both the game world and the game’s rules for each server. So while you might have found a player settlement in one spot of the map in your last game, this time you might find a mob camp. So exploration is always a big part of playing on a new game world.
And we go even further than that. We even change the rules of the game with each world. So in one game world there might be absolutely no magic damage. But instead we might have low gravity and increased run speed. And maybe on this game world you do not have unlimited respawns but instead a certain amount of lives? The possibilities and combinations are endless. Every game will be a new exploration not only of the world space but also of the possibility space and game balance.
One of the major driving factors for communities is City Building in Das Tal. Can you explain to us a little about the city building plan and how guilds and communities can help build the game world?
Settlements are important because only here players will be able to craft the strongest gear, upgrade their combat abilities to the maximum and – in general – find a safe space for a while. And while we believe that being in a clan is one of the best ways to play the game, we will also allow for other constructs. So for example next month we’ll add the functionality for clans to open their settlements to other players –newbies, lone wolfs or allied clans. There might be a cost attached to using the clan facilities and that’s intended – we want lots of bartering and the creation of long-term alliances to happen.
PvP isn't all that Das Tal has to offer, I understand that there are several random events that take place through the game world and offer exciting PvE content for adventurers and guilds to participate in. Can you give us some insight as to what we can expect to see?
There are always events going on in the world of Das Tal. Some of them are very common, such as meteors made of precious materials crashing down in the valley that you can loot once you’ve defeated their guardians. But you will always have to make sure that you defend them from other players as well. The same goes for bigger events such as caravan raids, the daily fight for resource spots or even the massive end fight that concludes every game world. There is always a very strong PvP component attached to every event – even though the event might not spell that out explicitly. That’s what happens when you create an Open PvP game with no safe zones or criminal flag nonsense.
Now for my personal favorite, Siege Warfare. There's nothing like the smell of burning oil and greek fire. How does Siege Warfare tie into Das Tal and how large of sieges can we expect?
Sieges in Das Tal are always multi-stage (and multi-day) events. In the first phase you have to drop a war offering close to your target settlement and defend it for only a couple minutes. A day later in the second phase you really have to set up shop outside of their walls and again defend your claim on the siege. And every clan that comes by can decide to challenge you and – if they defeat you – continue the siege. Once this has been decided, the very last phase of the siege happens a couple days later on a time specified by the defender. Here, the fight will engulf the whole city and for the first time make its city walls attackable.
Are siege weapons skill shot based or are they ground target based?
There are no siege weapons as of yet. When we add them, expect them to be 100% skill-based as the rest of our combat system is.
Guilds will be a critical part of this game. Can you share a little about how your guild system is built? In regards to Guild Progression, Size, Rankings, Alliances, and their ability to be seen and heard within the game world.
As of now our guild system is very basic. There is a global guild chat, XP sharing and of course access to the guild’s settlement. We’re also just adding the option for guild members to vote for their guild leadership. This is going to be a very interesting experiment, since guild members will be able to change their vote for the guild leader at any point in time – so we expect a lot of internal politicking to happen soon. Alliances are not in yet but you can expect similarly interesting systems.
Guilds are generally not restricted in size. So having more members is useful in many ways. Only that not all of our leaderboards are built for large clans. One, for example, is specifically designed to allow small clans to compete with large ones. It’s called “efficiency” and it measures your impact on the game world divided by how many clan members spent time in the valley. And of course more guild members mean more stray fireballs – so you might instead want to go for smaller, highly trained force for major engagements.
Will there be any out of game method for looking at a guild's progress via a website for new players looking to connect with an effective community?
Yes. Though do not ask me about the details yet. This is on our development roadmap for later this year and right in the process of being designed. I can tell you that we want clans to be entities that persist over game worlds and between game sessions. So there will be stat tracking and progression for your clan that happens outside of each game world.
Overall, as a developer of one of the more ambitious titles coming to market, what has been one of the biggest challenges of bringing this game to market?
Being short on cash and time. Our game budget so far has clocked in at under $200.000 and we know that our colleagues who currently develop their own sandbox MMOs have budgets that are in the $5 to 10 million region. So we obviously do not have as much cash to spend on the production of art assets, which required us to be very creative and frugal in this department.
We also do not have as much time to spend on communications and marketing. So while other teams might be able to release 20 minutes of video interviews per week, we have to be very selective in how we spend our time. While other studios would just have told their PR agency to talk to you, at Fairytale Distillery you get myself to talk to. Which is a ton of fun – but obviously means that I did not spend the last hour working on the game design.
If you could offer a piece of advice to others who might be dreaming of becoming a game developer, what would it be?
Make games. Start very small. Do game jams. Meet other developers. Dream big. Think sustainable. Do not ever ask for permission. Have fun.
Where can we learn more about Das Tal and get involved in its development progress?
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About the Author
Benjamin "Foghladha" Foley
Managing Editor & Designer
Benjamin founded the Gaiscioch Social Gaming Community in 2001 and has since been the founder & activities director for this well known community. His role has gone beyond just running the Gaming Community and now includes running the Athletics Program in Portland, Oregon, as well as acting as the Managing Editor of the Gaiscioch Magazine, and is the Lead Producer on the Gaiscioch Livestream Productions. Additionally he networks with game developers to form relationships between Gaiscioch and development studios.
His experience in publishing dates back to helping his Grandparents who operated a printing press for over 40 years. In high school and college Benjamin excelled in journalism and played an active part in the school newspaper. Benjamin currently works full time as the director of technology for a franchise trade publication & education company.